Friday, December 16, 2016

Passengers

Sony is purposefully obscuring a key factor of this movie that isn't so much a shocking reveal as it is the major driving force of the plot. This action occurs very early on in the film, but it's not even hinted at in any of the trailers, so if you don't want to know about it, stop reading now. Consider yourselves warned.

Passengers is a $150 million sci-fi film based on an original idea. It has slick production design, cool visual effects, and it features two of the biggest, hottest movie stars in the world in Chris Pratt and Jennifer Lawrence. It's a film that seemingly has everything going for it, but the film can't quite escape the feeling that it's less a modern day blockbuster and more like a '90s movie you'd see in constant rotation on TNT. It has a handful of decent moments, but despite the efforts of everyone involved, there's a hurdle in the story the movie can't quite leap — and it's a doozy.

Passengers
Director: Morten Tyldum
Starring: Chris Pratt, Jennifer Lawrence



Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Rogue One: A Star Wars Story

Star Wars has been a cultural landmark for almost forty years, but it took until 2016 to finally get a movie in the franchise that doesn't once utter the name "Skywalker." It's refreshing in that regard, but Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, the first film to spin-off from the main saga, has been hyped as a "standalone" movie, and that couldn't be further from the truth. Rogue One does not and cannot stand alone — it's often paralyzingly dependent on the audience's knowledge of the events of A New Hope. Still, the good moments outweigh the bad, and if nothing else, the film showcases flashes of the potential these spin-off movies have to expand the franchise's universe beyond the actions of its most important family.

Rogue One: A Star Wars Story
Director: Gareth Edwards
Starring: Felicity Jones, Diego Luna, Mads Mikkelsen, Ben Mendelsohn



Thursday, November 10, 2016

Arrival

Skillfully plotted and spectacularly executed, Denis Villeneuve's Arrival sidesteps the empty bluster of much of today's explosion-driven sci-fi and instead provides intelligent, highly emotional genre entertainment that scratches an itch we didn't even know we had. It's full of discovery, wonder, and suspense, has a potent and impressive score, and contains a stellar performance from Amy Adams. In short, it's a total stunner of a movie in the best possible way.

Arrival
Director: Denis Villeneuve
Starring: Amy Adams, Jeremy Renner, Forest Whitaker



Sunday, October 23, 2016

Doctor Strange

It's been less than ten years since Marvel Studios kicked off its grand experiment with Iron Man and changed Hollywood forever, and it's interesting to look at the ways the company has both relied on what's worked and pushed its own boundaries since then. The studio's fourteenth (!) movie, Doctor Strange, is, when you break it down, a relatively formulaic origin story, but in many ways its the studio's most daring creation yet. This is the most visually stunning film of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, and while co-writer/director Scott Derrickson leans on familiar beats in the screenplay, it's his stylistic eye that makes the movie leap off of the screen and truly command your attention.

Doctor Strange
Director: Scott Derrickson
Starring: Benedict Cumberbatch, Mads Mikkelsen, Tilda Swinton, Benedict Wong, Rachel McAdams, Chiwetel Ejiofor